By Patrick Despain
Baseball is the greatest game ever invented.
I enjoy all of the other major sports, but nothing is like baseball to me. The traditions, the stats and the rich history always keep me interested in “the great game.” It’s the National Pastime. It has been for many, many years. It will continue to be for years to come. Football is gaining popularity in America, and it should. It too is a fantastic sport, along with basketball and all the other sports out there that we play, watch or follow religiously.
Baseball has the ceremonial first pitch, which is thrown out by dignitaries, heroes, or interesting people in our society. Baseball has the 7th inning stretch, which was inspired by President William Howard Taft. Baseball has “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”, which most Americans know by heart. Baseball has the Little League World Series, which incorporates teams from not only the United States, but teams from around the world.
Baseball has the legacy of Babe Ruth. The “Sultan of Swat” re-wrote the record book in the 1920’s, with his tremendous power, and captured America with his flamboyant nature. Yankee stadium was known as “The House That Ruth Built.” When Ruth died, he laid in state in Yankee Stadium.
Baseball has Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball’s color barrier. The man who endured so much over the first few years of his career, and never fought back. Baseball has the heart, courage and determination of #42. The man who changed baseball forever…..for the better. Thank you, Mr. Robinson.
Baseball has Joltin’ Joe, Teddy Ballgame, The Say Hey Kid, The Wizard of Oz, Red Barber, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, The Curse of the Bambino and the movie “The Sandlot.” Baseball has the “perfect game”, the “no-hitter”, Nolan Ryan, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey and Stan “The Man” Musial.
Baseball has the steroid era, two World Wars, the 1919 Chicago “Black” Sox, Disco Demolition, and the 1994 labor strife. But baseball perseveres.
In baseball you cannot take a knee and run out the clock, go into Dean Smith’s “Four Corners”, or continually “ice” the puck. The pitcher still has to face the batters on the other team. In baseball, every man gets an opportunity.
Baseball has Lou Gehrig. “The Iron Horse” stated that he felt like he was the luckiest man on the face of the Earth, while staring down a disease so terrible, so unknown at the time, he didn’t know what his future held.
Baseball has “Nice guys finish last” from Leo Durocher, “Who’s on First?” by Abbott and Costello and Ken Burns’Baseball, an epic documentary of 18 and a half hours.
And lastly….baseball has us. The fans.